Shingeki no Kyoujin – 19

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 19 -2 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 19 -11 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 19 -14

I suppose with this episode, Attack on Titan was a little bit victimized by its recent success.

We’re back to extended recaps at the beginning of the episode for at least one week, which isn’t such a huge concern but does bring back unpleasant memories considering this is Shingeki no Kyoujin we’re talking about.  We also saw a significant dip in animation quality (the remnants of Levi Squad riding over the bridge is a potent example) and a generally less focused and compelling tone than in recent weeks.  But all told it wasn’t bad – certainly nothing like a return to the ugliness of “Defense of Trost: 325”, just a step down from the very good run of of episodes the show has been on.

To some extent, I think it’s also a matter of where the focus was as much as focus itself.  Any ep that relies as heavily on one seiyuu as this one does on Kaji Yuuki is going to suffer when the seiyuu is Kaji Yuuki.  Plain and simply, he’s just not a very good actor and any time he tries for real emotion it sounds a bit silly.  Apart from that, Eren and Levi simply aren’t as interesting as the likes of Jean, Armin and even Reiner, so an entire episode built around Eren’s internal struggles and Levi mugging for the camera isn’t likely to earn a place on the top shelf.  AoT definitely benefitted from an extended turn for Jean and Armin in the spotlight this past month, and while I know it isn’t going to be an every week occurrence I hope it wasn’t a complete aberration either.

That said, once the recap was dispensed with the plot did surge forward more or less satisfactorily. There were flashbacks of course, but flashbacks are fine when they’re new material, and they did help to explain how things got to their current straits.  One element of interest is that the cliffhanger of last week – the “cover your ears” moment – was never really explained, at least as far as I can tell.  What specific purpose did the sound grenade serve?  It certainly didn’t seem to slow down Nice Ass at all, so perhaps it was a signal to Erwin that the squad was close.

What the flashbacks told us (aside from the fact that Hanji is apparently an Evangelion fan) is that Eren seemingly can’t trigger his transformation without having a specific goal in mind.  The fact that the goal could be as trivial as “pick up the teaspoon” is a bit odd, and the sequence where the members of Levi Squad chewed their own hands as a show of solidarity quite overwrought and a bit silly.  I found the whole matter of Eren’s struggling for acceptance into the squad (“Shut up for a minute!” was exactly my thought as well) and wrestling with his decision on horseback a bit of a bore, to be honest, but the meat of the episode is the female titan, and just who she is.  Sadly I know, thanks to a spoiler comment from last week.  It seems Erwin’s goal all along was to use Eren as bait to capture that female titan and find out who she really was, which implies at least that he’s not an outright part of the conspiracy itself.

Speaking of spoiler comments, I’m getting pretty sick of them.  I’ve stated my policy on this more times than I can care to count and it doesn’t seem to matter, but blocking comments altogether for a series is somewhere I’d really rather not go.  At this point – and this applies to the upcoming Hunter X Hunter post as well – any intentional spoiler is going directly into the spam folder, and the sender and their IP adress onto the blocked list. Of course I have to try and do all this without reading the spoiler myself, so you’re still on your own – if you see something you shouldn’t before I get a chance to delete and ban, my sympathies – but I can’t promise a spoiler-free environment.

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  1. i

    I stopped watching this episode around the halfway mark as things started to become real silly. At first I didn't even know it was a flashback until I questioned why all of a sudden they're in an open field. The other reason is simple. Kaiji Yuki is annoying as fuck. His rant at the trial was distasteful but bearable as it was short and aimed at someone even more annoying than himself. I don't suppose I'll watch the rest till another run of good episodes come out.

    So instead of watching AoT I went an watched HxH. Both Shounen fantasy action series but one has shown a fundamental advantage over the other. I'm not sure whether one would consider it a fantasy but many stories like AoT, GC, SAO, AW and so on so forth have a subtle fantasy from the get go. Maybe its because they are aimed primarily at non-adults or immature ones but it seems to me that they indulge in this fantasy, and it, has been and always will be a fantasy, that children, no ignorant brats, have power in both ability and intelligence and morals over adults. HxH and many other great shounen series like FMA do not indulge in this. They show the respect that the older and wiser deserve, they maintain military discipline.

    Even if a 16 year old in the marines was the best shot in the country he would have no control over how the captain or general strategizes in battle. On the front lines he's just another kid with a gun. That train of though that just because he's good or young means he's entitled to more and is in the right without thought is no doubt the result of immature fantasy.

    I don't know how faithful AoT is to the manga but if its half as faithful as HxH then Togashi is clearly the better writer.

  2. J

    Salient criticisms of a show are completely warranted, and in fact a few of your points were issues that I had reading the original manga. I actually would have preferred the main cast to be a little older (perhaps in their twenties), but I overlooked it due to the genre. I also disliked the placing of the flashback in this episode and some of the long-winded diatribes that bordered on being pretentious.

    However, some of your other criticisms are quite frankly silly, entirely subjective, and generally not well-thought-out (you honestly couldn't tell it was a flashback immediately?). The competent characters are the older ones (Irvin, Hanji, Levi, Mike, Pixis, etc.), and sufficient respect is accorded to them.

    Eren is a subversion of the shounen archetype of the simple-minded protagonist and possesses no edge in morals or judgment over his superiors. Your example of the marine is correct, but also irrelevant here. Eren certainly is never depicted as being entirely in the right, as later events will show.

    And lastly… Togashi at his peak is better. But right now? Terrible

  3. i

    Complete disobedience and distrust of his superior is a sign of disrespect, especially when it is the guy who saved his life. And within the runtime of this anime give me a major moment when Eren is in the wrong and unlike a Mary Sue learns that he is an insolent brat.

    Your last comment is the silliest thing written on this entire page.

  4. H

    "And within the runtime of this anime give me a major moment when Eren is in the wrong and unlike a Mary Sue learns that he is an insolent brat."

    When Hannes brings him down to size after saving him.
    When Mikasa brings him down to size after he refuses to eat and causes trouble.
    When his brash ideals put him at odds with people in his training squad, who then refused to help him train when it seemed like he couldn't use 3DMG.
    When he got his entire squad bar Armin killed through his recklessness in Trost.
    When he thought he could convince a courtroom full of adults with a hot blooded speech, and is brought down to size violently by Levi.

    And there's certainly a few particularly potent hamartia moments coming up, though I obviously won't delve into specifics.

  5. i

    "and unlike a Mary Sue learns that he is an insolent brat."

    There's a second part and none of those moments you've listed fit it. Also the only major moment is in the court room. Fighting over bread isn't really duh major. Mikasa saved him when he couldn't use 3dmg and his shitty taunts caused everyone else in that cafeteria to join him in Recon later on. There was no remorse for what happened in Trost and is actions only this episode show that it is a long forgotten memory to him. Hannes? Don't make me laugh.

  6. i

    @Richard, I don't know what happens later on but right now Eren is just as unrealistic and unlikeable character as Oh my Shoe, KiritO and Fat boy. Certainly some teens like Armin, Jean and Renier have shown respect for the orders they're given but the main character has not. He is just another idiot who cannot see beyond his own thoughts and my point is that it is a fantasy that people like that can opportunistically be always in the right and survive. It goes beyond simple minded hot headedness. If Eren could not turn into a titan he would have been executed long ago for disobedience, at least in a more realistic world or ours. It is because of characters like him that I dislike most Shounen series. He's childish with no chance for development, EVER.

  7. J

    @Ishruns I hope that's the last time I ever read the words "Eren" and "Mary Sue" in the same sentence. I said he was a subversion of shounen tropes; he's meant to be unlikeable and borderline psychopathic. Of course he's idiotic and naive, and that's acknowledged in the narrative. And he was about to be executed, both for insolence and for being a potential threat. Hell, in another subversion of traditional tropes he is usually the damsel in distress as well, with Mikasa always having to save him since he never wins a fight he's in.

  8. L

    Ishrun: I know where you're coming from about Eren's hotheadedness, but the author knows this all too well and (I'm going to skip the spoilers and try to be super vague about this) over the course of the manga tempers Eren down a bit.

    As for you not liking Eren, that's totally understandable given what we've seen so far, but saying that he has no chance of development is a bit unfair.

    As for Togashi… it feels like he isn't motivated to draw manga anymore. No matter how good the story, if he goes on hiatus for half the year and plays Dragon Quest from sunrise to sunset, it's obvious that his peak has passed. He's still raking in cash from YYH (and his wife, from Sailor Moon), though, so it's understandable that money may not motivate him now.

  9. i

    @Luxorcism, first nice name. Second thanks for the heads up. My own hot headedness might have made me say that Eren will never develop. If he does that's good but personally I find it hard to keep watching him and him alone week in week out. Nothing else really bothers me in AoT, though the mystery does seem to be a bit predictable.

    On Togashi, guy needs a break for a while and in all honesty I think he'e stalled for so long because he intends to make one last, giant arc and is working out the no doubt enormous details as well as how to close story lines in it. He's taking the job more like a novelist than a mangaka

  10. E

    All riiiiight, Eren and Kaji Yuki's combo has beautifully pissed me off in this me.

    "Face up front! Look ahead of you!"
    "Why? I don't wanna!"
    "Focus on running!"
    "Why? I don't wanna!"
    "Follow your captain's order!"
    "Why? I don't wanna!"

    *facepalm* *double facepalm*

    Yes. If this was in real world. He would be shot in the head, as deserter.

  11. R

    Yes, the sound grenade was to alert the the members in the front to ready the grappling hook cannons.

  12. p

    Here's something you have to consider.

    The previous two episodes, 17 and 18, each covered 1.5 chapters. This episode, on the other hand, only covered 1 chapter. So that is one big reason why this chapter feels much slower compared to the previous ones (aside from the slow flashback that messed up the pacing of fast chase action of this episode).

    Another thing you have to consider is that this current Female Titan arc has only 7 more chapters in the manga to cover before it is over.

    And right now, the show has finished 19 of its 26 planned episodes. So it should pretty much be a given that these last few episodes will all nowhere be as fast-paced as the previous recent ones we've seen.

    Deeply unfortunate, but that's the problem with adapting a manga that is nowhere near completion the way SnK has.

  13. J

    Actually, this episode covered the 2nd half of chapter 25 and the whole chapter 26. With 6 episodes left to cover 8 chapters, the pace would still remain the 1.5 chapter/episode one, probably just a couple of them being a bit slower.

  14. R

    >So that is one big reason why this chapter feels much slower compared to the previous ones

    Enzo doesn't need to consider this. The episode just wasn't good enough and there are no excuses. The production team should take more liberties like in EP2 (bread scene was anime-original) instead of relying on recaps.

  15. n

    "and the sequence where the members of Levi Squad chewed their own hands as a show of solidarity quite overwrought and a bit silly. I found the whole matter of Eren's struggling for acceptance into the squad ("Shut up for a minute!" was exactly my thought as well) and wrestling with his decision on horseback a bit of a bore, to be honest,""

    I think the anime just did not convey this well. Rivaille's squad was basically saying that they did not regret their actions. If they killed Eren right there and then and later be proven that he's actually innocent, they will not regret it. For them, lack of information and making wrong judgment calls is just part of life they're in. So the biting bit was not just for solidarity or even some sort of penance. It was a way of acknowledging that they have their limitations and that they WILL make mistakes, while also realizing they're humans who can do only know and do so much. The biting symbolizes that.

    The same theme runs when Rivaille asked Eren whether to trust his comrades or himself. Some might think it was a trick or challenge question, but it was a serious one. Rivaille thinks going ahead is the better alternative since he's privy to the plan, but that's just him and he clearly doesn't know everything. Likewise, Eren has his own valid reasons to believe that transforming is the better alternative. Who is right and who is wrong? No one knows. In fact it doesn't matter. What's important is that you make a decision to the best of your knowledge, stick to it, and not look back.

    So yeah… to me this theme is what this episode is all about. It was an interesting approach actually. Instead of a straight-forward "lez catch fem titan omgz", Isayama took time to explore the Corps' coping mechanism given the unusual nature of their jobs.

  16. n

    PS Kaji Yuki is a bad VA.
    This is coming from a person who hasn't heard of him (rarely watch animu nowadays), which means I have no preconceived hatred of him unlike half of MAL.

  17. s

    I wouldnt say Kaji Yuki is a bad VA, it's just that he just doesnt bring anything substance to his performances is all. It's very average at best with nothing for the viewer (well me) to take away and he tends to be grating at times but it doesnt necessarily make him bad; To me, a bad voice actor is someone who cant deliver any line they act or read, emotional or not, in a convincing manner. Kaji Yuki is quite capable of delivering normal conversation without messing that up so he jumps over the pit id dub as "bad voice acting"…when i hear his performances though, i definitely dont think to myself "damn, i dont think anyone could have pulled that character off but kaji yuki" but again, he's just average at best (those are the key words)

  18. Z

    Exactly. His performance was fine in SSY for instance.

  19. H

    This show suffers from the fact that the director feels he needs to end every single episode on a cliffhanger. Sometimes this works out well, but other times you see not a lot of material stretched out for far longer than it needs to be, which is what happened this episode.

  20. R

    It definitely feels slower this week after the last two action-packed episodes, but I am happy to see more of Hanji — even for just a bit. She's awesome — beneath those crazy behaviour is really her intelligence and passion in knowing more about humanity's enemy. Of course, Paku Romi is awesome. This episode somehow clears my doubt on Erwin. It also makes me think a bit. A lot of Survey Corps are willing to put their lives on the line and sacrifice themselves for knowing nothing about the true meaning of the mission but only relying on their faith of being a Survey Corp and their trust on their commander. It's a bit of a far-fetched comparison, but it's like the astronauts to a certain extent — a lot of money is spent and any astronaut can be killed without bringing back a concrete answer to the future but the belief that what they do will benefit mankind as a whole. I probably watched Uchuu Kyoudai right before this show and therefore thought of that…lol.

  21. S

    " I know, thanks to a spoiler comment from last week, though it acted to confirm what I'd strongly suspected already"
    That's a freaking spoiler in itself, Enzo! God damnit. Now I know whoever it is is highly likely, as opposed to somebody unlikely, or unheard of.

    Even though my anticipation for the reveal was pretty modest before, it's now non-existent.

  22. How do you know my suspicion wasn't someone you'd consider unlikely?

  23. S

    Tssk. Don't insult the readers intelligence. Although I do realise that you're trying to repair the damage done,so thanks. No hard feelings.

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